Meet the York student who has written her dissertation on Derry Girls

Sister Michael would be so proud x

With the last ever episode airing last week, the hype around Derry Girls at the minute has been real. But one final year York student has taken this one step further and written her undergrad dissertation on the iconic show.

York English student Réiltín’s dissertation is titled “Being a Derry Girl, it’s a state of mind: Humour, Teens and the Troubles in Derry Girls” and explores how Derry Girls compares the troubles of being a teen to the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The York Tab spoke to Réiltín to find out more about her dissertation.

‘It sorted started off as running a joke that I’d end up writing my diss on Derry Girls’

Réiltín grew up in Derry and therefore was a fan of Derry Girls from when it first aired. She thinks the show accurately captures how people used humour to cope during the Troubles. “I obviously didn’t grow up during the worst of it, but I still get and understand a lot of the jokes” she said.

Attending an all-girls school run by nuns, Réiltín recalls how one time a hijacked van was abandoned outside her school at midnight and the police had to make sure it wasn’t a bomb. By 6am it was confirmed safe so we were back in school by 8am. “It didn’t even make it in the morning announcements, we just had to get on with it. I think Derry Girls captures that need to get on with normal life when all this very not normal stuff is going on around you very well.”

The idea of writing her diss on Derry Girls started off as a joke. But by the time it got to submitting her proposal she realised it would be something she would really enjoy writing so went for it.

‘I can’t really complain watching a show I love over and over for uni work’

Réiltín said the support she received from the uni on her topic was great: “My supervisor is Bryan Radley and he was really enthusiastic about it, he does a lot of work in Irish comedy and was pretty much the perfect person to guide me in writing it. He mentioned his partner was from Northern Ireland too so he was able to understand a lot of the appeal and the humour of the show.”

“I really enjoyed it! I can’t really complain about watching a show I enjoy over and over for uni work, although if you saw me in the library watching the show, I promise I was working on my dissertation, not just sat there watching TV!”

‘I finished writing it the day before the last episode aired, so it felt very full circle’@LisaMMcGee

In terms of the content, Réiltín explored how the show compares the troubles of being a teen to the Troubles. “A lot of the media from Northern Ireland has been very dark and shows the violence of the Troubles really vividly. Derry Girls doesn’t” she said.

“It’s one of the few programmes that shows the lives of ordinary people and it also shows how the Troubles, as traumatic as they were, can be funny. I’ve used a lot of theory around dark humour to explain that. I’ve got a whole chapter on how the show sort of educates an audience outside of Northern Ireland about the Troubles, and how it reminds audiences we can never go back, especially in those finales of in Season One and Two.”

She continued: “I don’t know if a lot of people outside of Northern Ireland remember but a young journalist named Lyra McKee was shot during riots just after the Season 2 finale aired. The words of Bill Clinton hoping for a peaceful Derry 20 years ago are really sad when you consider lives are still in danger all this time.”

With the final season airing over the last couple of weeks, Réiltín did not have time to include this in her dissertation, which allowed her to enjoy it without overanalysing it.

“I finished writing it the day before the last episode aired, so it felt very full circle.”

Done your diss on a unique topic you think we should know about? Message our Instagram @theyorktab for the chance to be featured.

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